The fact Joel Quenneville won’t be the head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers next season sucks. It really does. As the author of this poll back in November, I’m not going to sit here and say ‘wow this is great and cool, why is everyone freaking out?’ It’s a very, very crucial offseason in Flyers’ history and not hitting the home run many of us had hoped for as the next head coach does sting quite a bit. However, it doesn’t mean the Orange and Black have already struck out this summer.
There were rumors back in December that Quenneville was going to come to the Flyers as former head coach Dave Hakstol’s replacement. It seemed pretty likely the former Chicago Blackhawks’ head coach was destined to lead this team next, but obviously something happened between then and now. It could be as simple as Quenneville wanted to take a large amount of money to work again with Dale Tallon and go to one of the few destinations one of his former dynamic offensive forwards is expected to go. There are some actual reasons why Quenneville went to Florida. No matter what happened and how it went down, there are two facts we all need to acknowledge: Quenneville won’t be the next head coach, and the Flyers’ offseason — as of today, the Monday before the 2019 postseason starts — is not yet a complete and utter failure.
The other options for next head coach aren’t nearly as exciting or flashy as Quenneville, but they would still be huge for Philly. There have already been a few rumors about former Dallas Stars and Phoenix/Arizona head coach Dave Tippett possibly returning to one of the four NHL teams he played for over his 11-year NHL career. The first thing that’ll jump out to most people when they hear Tippett is that he plays a boring, defense-first system or that the Coyotes sucked for the last five years he was there. In response to that, it’s fair to point out that he still managed to produced a 50-win season (something the Flyers haven’t seen since 1985-86) in 2009-10 and also reached the 2012 Western Conference Final with the Coyotes. When he was given more talent in Dallas, Tippett produced a pair of 50-win seasons with those two seasons being part of three seasons where he helped the Stars produce 107 points or more (something the Flyers haven’t done since 2002-03).
As for the possible ‘his system is boring’ arguments, perhaps somebody who can provide structure for a team that allowed the third-most goals against despite Carter Hart playing in 31 games isn’t the worst thing. Also, if the Flyers are going to post a 50-win season, nobody will care about the style of play.
Outside of Tippett, Flyers’ fans should be happy if the franchise lands Sheldon Keefe, who had success in the CHL and is now killing it as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ AHL team the Toronto Marlies. He’s a progressive coach that has had wild success working with younger players, traits that are an ideal fit for the current roster and a mindset that can help the Flyers remain competitive for years.
Both Bruce Boudreau and Peter Laviolette are still employed by NHL teams, but that may not be true in the near future. Both are good head coaches even if one is pretty unlucky in Game Sevens and one inadvertently kind of started this whole mess. Aside from these names there are other options (Alain Vigneault, Dallas Eakins, Todd McLellan to name a few) that may elicit complaining from the fan base immediately, but could end up being fine hires given a change of scenery and different roster builds.
Not landing Quenneville does remove a lot of excitement about the Flyers’ upcoming head coach search. Quenneville coming to Philly would have been the Flyers’ version of landing Bryce Harper. The fact it didn’t happen does suck, but there is still plenty of time and options for the Flyers to find a good head coach. Could the Orange and Black find a way to mess this up and hire, say, Randy Carlyle? Sure, but nothing has happened yet. Let’s see where this goes.